Self-Help Credit Union grows by serving underserved people

As we have seen despite previous economic woes, South Carolina credit unions have responded again through 2019 and 2020, working to ease pandemic pressures by modifying consumer lending and mortgages, providing emergency loans and reducing fees, ”said Dan Schline, president and CEO of the Carolinas Credit Union League, which serves credit unions in North Carolina and South Carolina .

“This focus on the member is at their cooperative roots, and they will continue to be invaluable partners with communities throughout Palmetto state,” added Schline.

Although still relatively small in South Carolina, Self-Help Credit Union ranks among the top 10 largest credit unions headquartered in North Carolina.

But Self-Help is eclipsed by a number of North Carolina-based banks, including Bank of America, Truist, and First Citizens Bank.

“We’re a chip on these guys, so we have to have the self-discipline to recognize that we can’t be everything for everyone,” Chambers said. “To be financially successful, we have to be strategic in what we do and what we don’t do. It is more a function of size than of finances.

The Credit Union views Palmetto State as a key part of its footprint.

“South Carolina is important to us because it is home to the third largest African American population in the United States,” Chambers said. “If we are to serve and strengthen African American communities, if we are to continue to serve and strengthen rural communities, states like South Carolina are essential to our mission. “

Chambers described the credit union’s Palmetto State strategy as rather vanilla.

“We’re almost like a simple savings and loan,” he said. “We bring in deposits… and we complement that by recruiting depositors who want to invest with us because they support our mission, and they will get a competitive interest rate.”

Self-Help would love to have a presence statewide in South Carolina, but that would likely mean going into the Charleston and Florence markets and building up its presence in the upstate, rather than opening branches. statewide.

Of the more than 5.1 million people living in South Carolina, about 35%, or roughly 1.8 million, are classified by US census data as non-white, of which 27% are African Americans.

Almost 14 percent of the state’s residents, or more than 700,000 people, are classified by the US Census Bureau as living in poverty.

And about one in three people in the state, or about 1.7 million, live in rural areas.

While there is an overlap between two or more of these categories, all of this adds up to a large potential pool of customers for self-help.

“There is a really critical opportunity in South Carolina where we hope we can be of assistance,” Chambers said.

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